03 May, 2009

A Non-exhaustive Glossary of Drip Irrigation

This chart, above, gives you a starter idea of the amount of drippers and kinds of drippers you would need with different types of plants. It is a starter idea - once you install your system, you will experiment to determine the number of drippers you find most successful.

Below you will find some of the terms you'll run across if you decide to get into drip irrigation.

Anti-siphon A device, required by most municipal codes, that must be located at the beginning of any irrigation run. There are several technologies, but regardless of how they work, they all are designed to prevent a sudden drop of water pressure (i.e. from a major pipe break) from allowing water that is in irrigation lines from being sucked back (“siphoned”) back into the potable water supply.
Aquapore Brand name of a soaker hose
Barbed fitting or barbed emitter A fitting or emitter designed to be placed into tubing and held in place by barbs.
Compression fitting Fittings to couple tubing (usually ½”) together – placed on the OD of the tubing
Coupler A fitting designed to bring two items of like size (such as ½” or ¼” tubing) together; coupling unlike items is called “adapting”
Downstream Further from the water source
Drip irrigation 1.The slow application of water directly to the plant's root zone. Because the water is protected from wind and sun until it is deposited at ground level, more water is brought to the plant without waste, usually resulting in a 50% savings on a given water bill. Drip irrigation water usage is measured in gallons per hour (GPH) vs. other irrigation practices that are measured in gallons per minute (GPM).
Drip irrigation 2.A modern methodology for reducing even above average intelligent human beings into extended states of blithering idiotry with very low cost and effort. In this sense, often referred to as “drip irritation.”
Dripper Technically called an “emitter,” a plastic device that is engineered to allow a set amount of water pass through it – often actually in visible drips, giving it its rather unfortunate name.
F Female, used with thread designation
Goof plugs Your new best friend. Any hole made in the wrong place can be plugged with one of these – and they are cheap!
GPH Gallons (of water) per HOUR
GPM Gallons (of water) per MINUTE
HT Hose thread
ID Internal diameter
Injectors Devices to put (inject) fertilizer (as well as pesticides if so desired) into the water of a system.
In-line drippers Tubing with the drippers (emitters) built into the tubing at set spacings.
In-line valve Valve placed into the system to allow one part of the system to be turned off. Valuable for flexibility.
M Male, used with thread designation
OD Outer diameter
Poly tubing Plastic (polyethylene) tubing that comes in a variety of sizes – usually measured by the ID, i.e. ½” or ¼” or even 1/8” – it can be painted to obfuscate its presence!
Pressure compensation (Usually applied to drippers.) Engineered to deliver a uniform flow rate even if the incoming pressure varies.
Pressure regulator Lowers water pressure to a pre-set level that is appropriate for a drip system. Must be physically higher than any emitter placed downstream.
PSI Pounds per square inch; the measure of pressure in a water line
PT Pipe thread
Soaker hose Tubing that ‘sweats’ or ‘weeps’ along its entire length that provides a convenient low pressure manner of watering row crops, perennial borders and raised beds. Easily configured and even more easily reconfigured.
Threaded barbs A fitting that can be used as a barbed fitting but has the advantage of having threads as well that can hold threaded attachments making it more universally useful – and more expensive.
T-tape Low cost tubing often used in agricultural applications.
Upstream Closer to the water source
Vacuum breaker An anti-siphon device
Valve On and off point; can be as simple as a hose bib or as complex as one valve among many wired to a controller with variously scheduled on and off times


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